The table was set for 100+ folk, with chairs snuggled between the muscadines, sweet potatoes, and cover crops. The shed converted to a high functioning kitchen, equipped with grill, hot plates, and a banquet-styled plating table. The wash station saw utensils and food scraps instead of basil and arugala, while the lunch table became a well-stocked bar.
All to promote the fresh culinary talents participating in the local food movement, Love is Love Farm at Gaia Gardens transformed this past Sunday to host the Young Guns! Dinner for East Lake Community and CSA members as well as those just in the know.
Young Gun/n. : a young person who is good enough to be able to compete with older experienced people
Indeed Miles Macquarrie, EJ Hodgkinson, Jason Paolini, Joeseph Ward, and Sarah O’Brien definitely lived up to their so deemed title that Sunday. None looking over the age of 28, these Young Guns have quite a future ahead of themselves. Following the way of farm-to-table practices, these culinarians are quickly becoming an integral piece of this city’s local food community.
Young Guns! Dinner on the Farm is the first of four dinners Joe Reynolds and Judith Winfrey of Love is Love Farms hope to host at Gaia Gardens this year. And this one was an event as smooth as the Young Guns themselves. Due to Joe and Judith’s stellar leadship and the helping hands of Rachel Hennon, Cameron Stephens, Kathleen Collier, Terrill Esposito, Emily Cumbie-Drake, Joe’s brother Josh, and myself, this Farm Dinner vision became quite the successful and delicious reality. With proceeds going to the nonprofit Wholesome Waves, the dinner will help sustain programs that improve accessibility and affordability of healthy, locally grown fruits and vegetables.
The event kicked off like all good events should with a refreshing bold cocktail. mixed by Macquarrie of Leon’s Full Service and poured by Erin Cescutti, a full-time employee on the farm, the drink was a peach-colored beacon of the scrumptiousness to come. Hors d’ouevres of pimento cheese sandwiches, pâté bites and sungold tomato tartlettes got passed around before Joe led a tour around Gaia Garden’s 2.5 acres.
Meanwhile, farm interns and volunteers received the low-down on plating and socialized among the chefs. I felt beyond lucky to be on the service side of the event, getting to watch in awe as all the ingredients-many coming from the vegetables I had helped harvest earlier that week, were meticulously layed out to compose four fantastic fresh dishes.
Finding their seats after the tour, the guests could barely lick their lips before being served…
Hodgkinson and Hank of Woodfire Grill shared a crisp summer salad of cucumbers, field peas, sun golds, and sprouts. Paolini and Jackson Anderberg from Restaurant Eugene + Holeman and Finch Public House prepared a clean creative appetizer of pickled onions, shrimp, and mustard seeds over a bed of sweet potato greens and a dash of fennel ash. Ward and Jerry Slater of H. Harper Station crafted the main dish of perfectly cooked pork loin, farrow, sweet onions, okra, and a smoked eggplant spread that made me realize the color gray could be as appetizing as anything else.
The dinner of course, could not be complete without dessert, and who else better than O’Brien of The Little Tart to bring the sweet ending? Much to my dismay, not a bite was left of the family-sized peach and blackberry tarts, but I guess I should have expected as much, especially when homemade whipped cream is involved …
As the sun set, applauds could be heard through the surrounding trees. Satisfied with bellies full, the dinner attendees soon waddled off, taking with them a certain distinctive energy of fleetingness that had truly transformed the farm into a most special dining location in Atlanta.
And like that it seemed, the farm turned back into the farm once more, ready to return to the hardworking hands of Love is Love.
Stay tuned with what’s going on at the farm at our blog and facebook page!